The playground was quiet Monday morning. No longer are children laughing, playing or climbing upon the slide at the Rectory Christian Preschool at 300 N. Division St.
It was not a desired decision to make, but the 12-member vestry of St. Peter's Episcopal Church recently voted to close the preschool doors. Declining enrollment and reduced staff made it difficult to keep the program viable.
"It's sad to see," said the Rev. Jeff Paul of St. Peter's. "The preschool has been a big part of the community for a lot of years - more than 20.
"We've seen 70-80 kids per year in the program. But when we decided to close, there were only eight enrolled."
Debbie Cowan, "Miss Debbie," was one of three preschool directors. Cowan along with Sharon Andreasen and Terrie Jachtzer headed the preschool in its 22-year history.
"The closing is like a death in the family," Cowan said.
"It was a wonderful blessing in my life. Lots of hands-on, messy, messy stuff."
"It is very sad," Jachtzer added.
The preschool opened in 1983 in what used to be home to the church priest. It is the site of Sunday school for children of St. Peter's church.
At 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Paul welcomes the community, parents of children who attended and the youth themselves to the preschool to share stories at a "farewell ceremony."
"We'll do a little service, say some prayers and ask others to share a few words," Paul said. "I'm having a hard time with this. It just slammed me."
Jachtzer said it will be a time people can reminisce. She said those most affected are the parents who had children enrolled at the time the decision to close was made.
"Families, generations have attended here," Jachtzer said. Her own children, Stanley, 13, and Cindy, 9, attended the preschool.
"The kids used to come in and help me clean, and play," she said. "They are very sad."
"Four of the five valedictorian and salutatorians at Carson High School this year were rectory kids," Cowan said.
"This has been a Christian outreach to families in the community. They were taught developmental education, it was wonderful."
Jachtzer said the teachings were great for social growth in the children. It wasn't just about 1-2-3 or A-B-C.
Paul said the vestry is considering what to do with the building and/or program. They are trying to decide if there is a need in Carson City the building might serve. If it were to become a daycare, Paul said numerous upgrades and code compliances would have to be done. All expensive undertakings.
"The vestry is doing research, reviewing census data and talking with the school district," Paul said.
"This feels like the end of an era. It's hard saying goodbye."
n Contact Rhonda Costa-Landers at email@example.com or 881-1223.